Relative: rumors in Donofrio disappearance untrue

By Ashley Luthern


The family of James Donofrio has not given up on finding the missing Boardman businessman.

“We would love to find him. ... We are following anything that gives us a thread of hope,” said Nancy Donofrio, Jim’s sister-in-law.

Nancy said Thursday that rumors have been swirling since Donofrio’s Sept. 25 disappearance that his restaurant, the Avalon Gardens on Belmont Avenue, is in financial trouble or closed.

“The business is a longtime established pizza place. ... Rumor has been that people are saying it’s closed, and it’s not. It has stayed open,” Nancy said, adding that Donofrio, who worked for more than 25 years in leasing at the Edward J. DeBartolo Corp., had “a very good head for business.”

The restaurant’s success is “paramount to [Roseanne Donofrio’s] survival,” Nancy said, referring to Donofrio’s wife.

Donofrio was reported missing after he did not arrive to close the restaurant Sept. 25.

A lack of evidence has stymied an investigation by law enforcement.

“We’re trying to develop leads. We’re working with the FBI who are doing electronic research through some sources,” said Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley. The chief declined to give more information on that aspect of the case.

“Unfortunately, nothing has come up for us to offer to the families,” Foley said.

Special Agent Vicki Anderson, of the Cleveland FBI office, said the agency is aware of the case.

“Currently, there’s no evidence of foul play. If evidence is collected of foul play or there is any indication of foul play, we have extended an offer to help local law enforcement,” she said.

Nancy said she does not believe Jim would just walk away on his own.

“My brother-in-law would not walk away from his family. If he walked away from his family then I guarantee he doesn’t know who he is,” she said.

Jim suffered a severe head injury several years ago, Nancy said, and the family has received a medical opinion indicating “that if he did take another blow to the head, he could easily be walking around and have no idea who he is.”

When asked if Donofrio had enemies, Nancy said “That remains to be seen” and said right now, no evidence supports that.

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